Day 17: Canberra

For my last full day in Australia, I planned a day trip to Canberra.  You may not know this about my, but I love history and learning about the history of places and people.  I thought if I was going to travel all the way to Australia, I should make sure to visit the capital, which is Canberra.  Most people don't head to Canberra because there is not a whole lot there and much of the true historical places are along coastlines and indigenous areas, but for me, I found interest in seeing the Capital and where all the political things take place.  Canberra is a newer city and a bit inland, about 3 hours away from Sydney.

Canberra was selected in the early 1900's when Melbourne and Sydney could not agree on where to put the capital.  As a result, Canberra became a planned city with the intent of being the capital.  Not surprisingly, it reminded me a lot of Washington, DC in terms of the layout and building style.  You'll see what I mean in some of the later pictures in this post, if you have ever been to DC.

The morning started off with a breakfast stop in a small town.  A bakery sounds good to me!
I had a piece of the pear crumb cake.  It was really good.
Then we kept heading down the road, getting closer and closer.  Don't forget, these are kilometers, not miles.
Here are some of the views heading inland and south.

I really liked the yellow flower bushes lining the roads.  Someone said they think they are a weed, but I still think they are pretty.  It added some nice color to the brownish green scenery.

Canberra is coming into view.
We arrived in Canberra and were pleased the weather was so nice.  Off in the distance is the War Memorial, which we drove past for now, but would head back to later.
Our first stop was a great overlook.  You can see there is a lake in the distance, which I am nearly certain is man-made.
I zoomed in a little and you can get a better view of what it looks like.  That is a road with an open (reddish colored) are in the middle, and the across the water is where Parliament sits.  At the end of the strip closest to us is the War Memorial and Museum.  You can start to see why this gives me the feel of DC.  You can tell it is a capital city, at least that is how I feel.
Posing with the view.
Some information on the lookout point and the plan of the city below.
More shots of the view, just different angles.

Here I am again, enjoying the view and the nice weather.
One more picture from the other side of the hilltop.
The next stop was the Australian War Memorial, which is also home to the war museum.  Once we arrived at the museum we were given time for lunch.  There were a few choices, but a group of us decided to visit a cafe and order some food there.  I made an unusual choice, but I knew that we would be getting back late and this would be me last day for a real meal and dinner would likely not be something too substantial, so I ordered the fish.  It was a nice piece of salmon with asparagus and mashed potatoes.
After a short lunch break, it was time to go into the memorial.  Seeing as my husband is in the military and Australians have also fought alongside the US, I found it important to learn about the battles they fought and the lives that were lost, some alongside American military members.  Here is the view from in front of the memorial and looking out, away from the entrance, towards Parliament in the distance.
Here is the front of the memorial.
This is the inside, with a pool of reflection, the names of the wars fought lining the inside walls, and at the far end is an eternal flame.
It was a busy day with school field trips, so it was hard to take pictures without anyone else in them.  Here you can see the names of the wars listed just under the arches.
This is the eternal flame.  Hard to see in the picture, but it was definitely lit.

This is looking back across the memorial, just before we entered the main area of the memorial, which was indoors.
This is the entrance.
Once inside we were able to look at the many beautiful art pieces.  This was the dome in the ceiling.
Here is their Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
I was very impressed by the detailed artwork.  There were 4 mosaics around on the 4 corners of the room.  Each represented a branch of military.

This piece was more modern and was made of 4 different materials.
There was also a stained glass piece.
Our tour guide explained the meaning of these red flowers to us.  In WWI, in France (I hope I get this story right), it was a bitter cold winter.  They lost many lives.  When Spring rolled around, these were the flowers that bloomed and this brought hope and happiness to those that had survived.  Now these serve as a way to remember all of their fallen soldiers.  People place these (I should mention they are not actually live flowers) next to the names of their lost loved ones.  Our tour guide even showed us the name of her father on this wall, which made everything seem so real.
I could not resist taking a photo of the names of the men and women of Australia that served with the US Air Force.
One last look at the memorial because it seemed that everyone had disappeared and I finally had a clear shot!
Then we headed into the museum where we looked quickly at some exhibits.  This is an actual boat, from this battle (at Gallipoli) in 1915, and you can see the bullet holes in the boat.
Just some of the things from inside the museum.

Pretty lifelike displays of battle scenes.

As we were heading down the road towards the Art Museum, I spotted a rainbow.
Then I spotted the giant water stream shooting up our of the lake.
The nice water front area by the museums.
A row of country flags.
Here we are at the National Gallery of Australia.  We were not allowed to take pictures inside, but I was able to take some of the building out front.
I thought this was really neat.  Doesn't it look like it is floating?  It has cables holding it up, but it really seems to float.
Next up was a trip to Parliament.  Security was tight here, so we could not bring much in with us.  This was built with specific plans and everything about the design means something.  I don't remember everything, but it was very representative of Australia.
Looking away from Parliament, back towards the war memorial and the hill were we stood earlier int he day to get our view of Canberra.
Like I said, everything was planned with the design, so out front, before you enter, was a giant Aboriginal design on the ground.
You can get more of a feel for the art in this view.
Inside, the green color was to represent the eucalypt forests, which are common in Australia.
When you are higher up you can get a better feel for the forest design.
This was in one of the hallways inside.  We were waiting to attend a session in the House of Representatives.  It ended up being quite an interesting debate over education funding.  One guy got mad and as soon as he could leave, he got up and bolted.  He kept trying to object, and I guess he about had it and took off.  I think another member was asleep.  I didn't think it was that boring, but apparently this guy did!
The building forms a big square, with an area in the middle for Parliament members to gather I suppose when they are out of session, perhaps for breaks.  We saw a few people mingling down here.
Just above this is the glass pyramid, and directly above that is the triangle that you can see from outside towering above the building.  From what I understood, before 9/11 you could go outside up on this roof, but now that is not allowed.
As we were leaving I took a picture of the old Parliament building.  It didn't look too old, but I guess they needed another building to better suit the needs of the government.
The last part of our trip was to tour the roads lined with the Embassy houses.  I honestly can't remember all of them, but the bus driver pointed them all out.  I will name them if I can.
Papua New Guinea

This is the US Embassy, which turns out to be massive.  Literally, it takes up an entire block.  I have other pics of it further down because we can back up another street and passed the rest of it from behind.

Back to the US on the other side.  Sorry, it's blurry.
More US.  It was hard to take pictures, but I really wanted to.

That was it for our tour of Canberra.  It was time for the long drive home, but not without one last view of the top of the Parliament building, which goes high into the air and has the Australian flag flowing.
A glimpse at one more monument as we exited the city.  Another reason why it reminds me of DC.
We made a dinner stop at a place called Trappers Bakery of Goulburn.
I wanted to try a pie because those are popular and traditional for Australia (think little meat pie), but they were out of vegetarian ones.  Instead, they suggested I try this spinach and feta pastry.  It was delicious!  Good suggestion by the manager.
The last thing I had to do before boarding back on the bus was check out this famous giant sheep that was in the parking lot.  Yep, that is a giant sheep.
Here he is from the front side.  This was certainly a sight to see!  It is massive.  It is known as Big Merino and represents the wool industry of Australia.
That about wraps up my trip to Australia.  Just another half day to go, but believe me, I managed to fit more sight seeing in before heading back to Japan.

QUESTIONS:  Have you ever been to Washington, DC?  What other capital cities have you visited?  Have you stopped in any small towns to see their interesting sights (like the giant thermometer in Baker, CA?)